Political turmoil is bad for business

Premier Clark needs to take a more business-friendly approach to stem threat from B.C. Conservatives

Business in B.C. is worried. The Clark Liberals have fallen far enough in the polls to prompt the B.C. Federation of Independent Contractors and Business Association to run attack ads on Vancouver radio stations targeting Adrian Dix.

Dix’s checkered past in B.C. politics is worthy of scrutiny, and attack. Dix is the guy who was fired for making up and submitting as proof, a memo claiming then-premier Glen Clark had no contact with the proponents of a Burnaby casino licence application, in the final NDP soap opera of the 1990s known as “Casino-gate”.

Yet, Dix wants to be premier, and the NDP and public-sector unions think that’s a good idea.

On the other side, B.C. Conservative leader John Cummins managed to get himself arrested on multiple occasions protesting Native fishery rules. Cummins has been in hot water for “mis-speaking” views on homosexuality.

Christy Clark has avoided being perp walked out of the Legislature. In the context of the current state of B.C. politics, Clark is merely damned with faint praise.

The NDP has demonstrated when they have held power in the past that they are incapable of governing. In power, the NDP will introduce policies designed to confiscate the wealth of private citizens and redistribute it to their supporters. It is in their charter.

The B.C. Conservatives are not ready for prime time. The B.C. Conservatives have a series of sensible and reasonable economic proposals. Their plans to reduce the size of government and minimize the influence of the public-sector unions on the B.C. economy are valid ideas.

However, the party will be branded as socially extreme and mean spirited. It will be impossible for the Conservatives to translate recent support into seats in the legislature. A vote for the Conservatives will be a vote for the NDP.

The B.C. Liberals made a huge mistake when they allowed the leadership process to be hijacked by Clark’s supporters. Clark was propelled into the leader’s role, without broad support by party faithful, and most importantly, party donors.

Clark barely won her seat in a byelection on Vancouver’s Westside, which should have been a cakewalk for the leader of a Liberal party. Clark’s hard turn to the left alienated party support in the interior of the province. Her muddled messages eroded critical support in suburban Vancouver.

The former Socreds and federal Conservatives that make up the B.C. Liberals are not convinced Clark speaks for them. The result is the B.C. Liberals are on the verge of handing the province to the NDP. This despite Dix’s very real and troubling issues.

To beat the NDP, and beat back the Conservatives, Clark must pivot away from her ill-conceived “Families First” platform and return to the pro-investment, small business-friendly policies of the Socred/Reform days. This will be difficult for Clark, given her upbringing and world view, but if the first job of a politician is to remain in power, it is her only hope.

There are a few simple and defensible moves she could announce immediately that would send a message to former supporters and take the wind out of the Conservatives’ sails.

First, announce the repeal of the carbon dioxide tax. The tax costs the province $100 million each year, and is symbolic of a false environmental narrative. Clark could put the brakes on the planned increase of the minimum wage. This would be a worker-friendly move resulting in hiring of new workers currently passed over by business in favour of more experienced workers. Clark could announce her government supports the Northern Gateway pipeline project. This would build support across the north and send a message to conservative voters and business that Clark’s Liberals support business investment and job growth.

Finally, Clark could signal that the Liberals do not support the Lower Mainland’s continuing war on the automobile. The Liberals main constituency in the Lower Mainland are people who commute, primarily by car, from suburb to suburb and they are fed up with increasing gas taxes, tolls, fees and levies they must pay simply for operating a vehicle.

These simple moves would send a message to conservative voters that the B.C. Liberals are serious about governing. They would immediately stimulate the economy. They would kill the B.C. Conservatives. The NDP will howl in protest, and much of the B.C. media will howl along with them. But the Liberals would win the election.

Any other course of action will result in an NDP government, and a premier more famous for his creative writing than his policies.




Mark Walker is the publisher of the Penticton Western News.



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